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VLN, 34th DMV Grenzlandrennen – Race Report
ROWE Racing Breaks Its Duck

At the sixth round of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring, Michael Zehe, Alexander Roloff and Roland Rehfeld celebrated the first overall victory for ROWE Racing.

The trio took the chequered flag at the 34th DMV Grenzlandrennen race in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 by 22.464 seconds from Sabine Schmitz, Niclas Kentenich and Arno Klasen, driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R. The top three was completed by Dennis and Marc Busch in a Porsche 911 GT3 competing in class SP7 and celebrating their first place on the podium in the endurance racing championship. The race, organised by the Rheydter Club für Motorsport and scheduled to run over four hours, was interrupted by several accidents and then finally stopped with the red flag after 162 minutes driving time.

The red flag was actually shown twice at this sixth of ten championship races in the current season.

On the first occasion, the race was stopped at 13:33hrs on Lap 10 after a three-car accident at Tiergarten, which partly blocked the track at this high-speed passage; “We had to stop the race for safety reasons.” said Bernd Burkhard, Clerk of the Course. Two of the drivers involved suffered slight injuries whereas the third driver was not injured. The race was restarted at 15:00hrs before it was finally stopped 67 minutes later. The track was blocked again after another accident –this time involving six cars - in the Bergwerk. As the minimum distance of 160 minutes required to allocate full championship points was completed, full points were awarded.

Pole position in the timed practice on the wet, 24.360 km-long combination of the Nürburgring short version and Nordschleife was gained by Chris Mamerow and Armin Hahne in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. The duo retired later in the race with tyre damage as they had lost all chance to win the event.

In the first part of the race, there were many changes for the lead, showing the Busch twins in the top after the first section. “After the restart, we were however no longer able to keep pace with our competitors and dropped back into third position,” said Dennis Busch.

So the way was clear for the ROWE team. “We are really happy with our first victory,” said Zehe. “We must of course admit that we benefited from the race interruption. I was not able to proceed to my stint as scheduled. As a privateer, I am also not able to achieve the same lap times as Alexander and Roland and the competition today was very strong. We would nevertheless also have been delighted with a place on the podium today.”

The crew which finished in second place was reasonably happy; “Even though you cannot blame anyone for the stopping of the race, we are not at all pleased, ” said Klasen. “We had been well on the way to catch up to the ROWE SLS and missed the first overall win for the Frikadelli team.”

ROWE Racing’s victory means that six different teams have won the six races – this is unique in the 35 year history of the VLN. This was the second victory of the season for a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.

Classified in fourth place were Peter Schmidt, Marcel Blumer and Christopher Zöchling in the Porsche of Car Collection Motorsport. The fastest Porsche-Cup drivers Rodney Forbes and Kai Riemer were followed by Michael Bäder and Tobias Hagenmeyer into position six. They were lucky, it could have been a lot worse, as the duo was involved in the accident which was the reason for the final red flag. In accordance with the Regulations, the classification of the race was based on the results after the penultimate lap.

Thomas Kappeler, Harald Hennes and Thomas Gerling in their BMW M3 were able to defend their lead in the Championship with their fourth class win in the category of VLN Specials up to 3000 cc cylinder capacity. Their lead over the second placed Mathol Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Wolfgang Weber, Norbert Bermes and Rickard Nilsson is 0.57 points. In third position are last year’s champions Mario Merten and Wolf Silvester in the Bonk-BMW-Z4.

The seventh championship race takes place on 27th of August - the ADAC Ruhr-Pokal-Rennen, which will run for six hours.

Race result - here